Sunday, March 02, 2008
Back from the 31st Annual US Crossword Puzzle Championship, for the first time having been held in Brooklyn, NY after 30 years in Stamford, Connecticut having outgrown that venue. 699 contestants this year.
I was rolling right along through the first six (out of seven) puzzles, all solved on Saturday. When the posting of the standings through that point was made available, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself in 21st place as I'd finished 43rd last year and hadn't been that close to the teens in a while. It was partly due to having successfully grappled with Puzzle #5, a vicious beast wherein notes of the solfegge scale that appeared in a phrase were "raised" to the next note and clued appropriately. So "muscle tic" became "muscle doc" and "solo concert" changed to "lao concert". This central theme entirely escaped me but I managed to finish it accurately anyway. The seventh was this morning and I thought I'd aced that one as well, only to come home, check the final posting of scores and discover that I'd made an error. Looking over the puzzle in question, I'm pretty sure that for "Egyptian god" (six letters), I'd blithely written in "Amon Ra" instead of "Amen Ra", without checking the crossing (opes, not "opos"). Dammit. I rarely see or hear "Amen Ra" and almost always encounter either "Amon Ra" or "Amun Ra". *grumble*
This slid me down to 29th, still a very decent placing but the mistake cost me 18th, which would've been really nice.
btw, many visitors here will be amused to know that one puzzle featured, entirely innocently, two crossing clue answers that were each names of ensembles of which Mr. Rowe has been a member: Amalgam and MIMEO. Why they weren't clued as such baffles me.
But, as always, more than half the pleasure of the weekend, substantially more, was getting to hang with an extraordinary group of people like Dan and Larry Okrent, George Rosenfeld, Leigh Newman, Joshua Kosman. (Joshua, who's a classical critic for the SF Chronicle, told me about a composer he's very hot on, Derek Bermel. Anyone heard him?) Just wonderful, wonderful folk.